FF PROFILE: CANARSIE FIL-AM
Our next Q&A Session brings us through the tunnel and across the bridge to Canarsie in Brooklyn, NY. Meet Dolores Adena aka Dolly and her brother-in-law Zacarias Manlangit aka Boboy. They co-own the Canarsie Fil-Am Store on Avenue L. The location has been providing Filipino grocery services to the Brooklyn community for two decades. The original owners, who have retired, opened shop in 1995. Dolly and Boboy have since taken over and are looking forward to making sure this community continues to have access to Pinoy food and specialty favorites locally. The Brooklyn Filipino community has steadily grown over the years and is approaching a population of 10,000!
FF: Tell us about who you are...A little bit about your family and where you live today.
D: I'm a mother of three (Kevin, Julius, and Maria) and a Registered Nurse currently working two jobs at Brookdale Hospital and Kingsbrook Hospital. My family and I have lived here in Canarsie for over 20 years.
B: I am the father of three (Jonash, Boji, and Shinji) and my wife Lydia is also a Registered Nurse. I'm the go-to mechanic for many Filipinos in Canarsie and have lived here for over 15 years.
We also co-own See Gee Service Station also here in Canarsie.
FF: Tell us a little bit more about where you're from and how you ended up where you are today.
D: I was born in the Philippines and decided to come to the U.S. to pursue greener pasture. I thought I would have better opportunities as a nurse.
B: I was born in the Philippines and wanted to give a better life to my family. I spent over 10 years in Japan as a welder. Then, I decided to try my luck in the U.S. as a mechanic.
FF: Why did you choose to go into this business?
D & B: It was presented to us. The previous owners wanted to sell it to us and since we wanted to save the only Filipino Store in Brooklyn, we decided to buy it. We wanted to save it for our community.
FF: What was the most challenging thing you've had to overcome to get to where you are today with your business?
D & B: The most challenging thing was renovating the place. When we first bought it, the place looked gloomy and unorganized. We wanted it to be more inviting to attract more customers. We asked Dolly's son-in-law Marlon Cruz Jr. to redesign the space and organize the area with a limited budget.
FF: Tell us what makes your shop unique?
D & B: It is the only Filipino store in Brooklyn. Filipinos in Brooklyn won't need to travel to other boroughs.
Q: What's on the road map for your business? Where do you see you or your business in 5-10 years from now?
D & B: We are hoping to add a catering business...Mostly serving Filipino food.
Q: How important has the Filipino community been to the success of your business?
D & B: It is very important. The Filipino community here in Brooklyn is the reason why we saved the store.
Q: Do you have any advice for other Filipino-Americans who want to own or start their own business.
D & B: Our only advice is "Go for it".
Check out photos from Dolly and Boboy's grand opening! Congratulations and much success for decades to come!
Canarsie Fil-Am Store
91-22 Avenue L
Brooklyn, NY 11236